Backcountry users are asked to use caution when travelling into alpine environments, as avalanche hazards can change quickly. This photo shows an avalanche at Hospital Creek last year. PHOTO SUBMITTED

High avalanche dangers in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks

Heavy snowfall in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks, combined with warm temperatures and moderate to strong winds increased avalanche hazards last week.

On Friday, January 4, avalanche danger ratings were “extreme” in the alpine and in the treeline, and “high” below the treeline. The perfect storm of weather began on January 3, and continued into the next day to create dangerous avalanche hazards in the national parks.

When risks are as high as “extreme” and “high” danger ratings, travel into the backcountry avalanche terrain is not recommended. Avalanche conditions can change quickly, and it is best to check online about hazard ratings before travelling into the backcountry. s of Monday, January 7, avalanche conditions in the Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks had decreased to “considerable,” which is still considered dangerous avalanche conditions.

The “considerable” avalanche rating states that travellers must use “careful snowpack evaluation, cautious route-finding, and conservative decision-making.”

The avalanche bulletin states that human triggering was still likely, and backcountry users were asked to make conservative terrain choices.

In Glacier National Park, surface slabs were developing as of Monday, January 7, with increased winds in the alpine. The danger rating that day was “considerable” in the alpine, “moderate” in the treeline, and “low” below the treeline.

Daily avalanche bulletins are available from Parks Canada for the national parks from early November to the end of April at avalanche.pc.gc.ca.

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